Wednesday, June 14, 2006

EU-US "partners in crime" on CIA flights: Amnesty

EU-US "partners in crime" on CIA flights: Amnesty
By Ingrid Melander

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Amnesty International urged European states on Wednesday to stop being "partners in crime" with the United States over the alleged kidnapping of terrorism suspects and their transfer to countries that use torture.

In a report and a letter addressed to EU leaders meeting on Thursday and Friday in Brussels, the human rights groups backed accusations that the U.S. Central lntelligence Agency ran secret transfer flights and that European countries were aware of it.

"There is irrefutable evidence of European complicity in the unlawful practice of renditions," Amnesty said in the letter.

"The European Council must therefore put a resolute stop to the attitude of see no evil, hear no evil that has prevailed so far," Amnesty said, referring to the EU summit.

The human rights group urged EU leaders to say in their meeting this week that the so-called rendition flights were "unacceptable" and to make sure their airspace and airports were not used for such flights in the future.

It asked EU leaders to raise the issue with President Bush when they meet him in Vienna on June 21, saying the bloc's credibility was at stake.

Amnesty's report draws largely the same conclusions as those issued by EU lawmakers on Monday, and last week by the Council of Europe, a European human rights watchdog. None produced hard evidence.

Amnesty reports on six suspected cases of CIA abuses in which it says seven countries -- Germany, Italy, Sweden, Britain, Bosnia Herzegovina, Macedonia and Turkey -- have been involved.

All these cases, and eleven others, have already been cited by Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty.

Amnesty does not produce "smoking gun" evidence either. But it says the "converging evidence" should be enough.

"The whole evidence question is overrated, it's a bit cynical," said Dick Oosting, director of Amnesty's EU office, accusing EU states of asking for much less evidence when they criticize abuses in other countries.